Wild Things sign former 2nd-round pick, 2 others
After trading two-year veteran Jhonny Montoya to the Atlantic League last week, the Wild Things had an opening on their roster for an experienced pitcher. They filled that spot Tuesday when they announced the signing of three players, including a pitcher who is a former second-round draft pick.
Washington signed left-handed pitcher Tyler Stovall, catcher Maxx Garrett and first baseman/outfielder Bryan Nicholson.
Stovall, who played in the Frontier League last season with the Normal CornBelters, was the Atlanta Braves’ second-round draft pick in 2008 out of high school in Hokes Bluff, Ala. Stovall (6-1, 200) spent four years in the Braves’ system, including two in Class A, before being released. A reliever in affiliated ball, Stovall signed with Normal last year and was used as a starter. He had a 2-9 record with a 5.70 ERA. He struck out 92 batters in 83 2/3 innings, but he also issued 91 walks.
Washington plans to use him as a relief pitcher.
“Tyler brings power throwing. He will work late out of the bullpen for us,” Wild Things second-year manager Chris Bando said. “This former high draft pick of the Braves has electric stuff.”
Garrett, a native of Kennewick, Wash., played two years of junior college baseball, then transferred and played his final two seasons at Gonzaga, where he was the Bulldogs’ starter catcher last spring, hitting .228 with two home runs.
Garrett (6-0, 215) recently played in the California Winter League, where Wild Things coach Bart Zeller was an instructor.
“Maxx Garrett did an excellent job behind the plate,” Zeller, a former major league catcher, said. “He is a hard-working young man with a passion for the game of baseball. In addition, he has demonstrated some power from the right side of the plate. I think our pitchers will like the manner in which he calls the game.”
Nicholson (6-3, 225), a left-handed hitter from Garden Grove, Calif., was drafted in the 38th round by San Francisco in 2011 and spent two seasons in the Giants’ system. He batted .274 in rookie ball in 2011.
Nicholson had a breakout year as a senior at Concordia (Calif.) University, leading the Eagles to the NAIA national championship and posting team-bests in batting average (.400), home runs (9) and RBI (64).
“(Nicholson) should hit in the middle of our lineup,” Bando said. “His former hitting coach described him as a monster bat.”
The Wild Things begin spring training in May and will begin their 11th Frontier League season May 17 at Schaumburg. The home opener is May 24 against defending league champion Southern Illinois.